Beef Barbacoa - Mexican Pulled Beef for Tacos and everything!
Recipe video above. Ultra-juicy Mexican pulled beef, tossed in a chipotle-spiced sauce! With a unique subtly spiced, tangy flavour, use this Beef Barbacoa for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, taquitos – the possibilities are endless. This is a slow cooker version that's simple to put together. Which means ... effortless. YES!
Prep Time10 minutesmins
Cook Time8 hourshrs15 minutesmins
Keyword: barbacoa, Barbacoa beef, barbacoa tacos
2kg / 4 lbbeef cheeks, or chuck beef(see Note 1)
2tbspvegetable oil, for searing
4chipotle chiles in adobo sauce(Note 2)
3/4cupdark ale (beer), or low sodium beef broth/stock (Note 3)
1/2cupapple cider vinegar
Cut beef: Cut large cheeks in half so you have around 12 - 15 pieces cheeks. If using chuck, cut into 12 or so pieces.
Season: Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Brown beef: Heat oil in a large pot or skillet over high heat. Sear beef in batches, browning aggressively all over. Place beef in slow cooker.
Blitz sauce: Place Barbacoa Sauce ingredients in a blender, food processor or similar (I use a Nutribullet). Blend until smooth – it shouldn't take long.
Slow cooker (see Note 4 for alt. cooking methods): Pour sauce over cheeks in slow cooker. Add bay leaves. Arrange cheeks so they are submerged as much as possible. Don't worry, they will release juice as they cook and raise the liquid level.
Slow-cook for 8 hours on low. The beef should be effortless to shred when done.
Shred: Remove cheeks from slow cooker into a pan. Shred using 2 forks.
Sauce: Pour over 3 or 4 ladles of the sauce, then toss.
1. Beef cut – For the most superior result, you can't beat beef cheeks. The ample connective tissue of this cut breaks down into soft, sticky gelatine, giving the beef richness and juiciness you just don't get with beef chuck. However, chuck does make a fine alternative – look for a well-marbled meat!2. Chipotles in adobo – These are chipotles (dried, smoked jalapneos) in a flavoured red sauce that is quite spicy. Usually found in cans (sometimes jars). Widely available in the US, and nowadays in Australia too. Check the Mexican section of large grocery stores like Coles & Woolies.Freeze leftover chipotles: Use a small ziplock bag, arranging chillies in one layer so it's easy to break a bit off to use as needed.Substitute in place of the chipotles in adobo: 1 1/2 tbsp chipotle powder + 1 1/2 tsp SMOKED paprika powder + 2 tbsp sriracha (YES, really, it's pretty close to Adobo Sauce!).3. Beer really gives the broth an extra edge in flavour and a rich dark colour to the sauce. The beer melds into the sauce so it doesn't taste like beer, and the alcohol cooks away. Sub with low-sodium beef stock/broth.4. Other cook methods:
Slow cooker on high: 6 hours
Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker: 1 hr on high
Oven: 160°C/320°F (140°C fan) for 3 to 3 1/2 hours (cover tightly with foil)
5. Lime Cream - excellent creamy sauce for tacos! Just mix:
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
2 tsp lime juice (adj to taste)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/8 tsp garlic, finely grated using microplane (or garlic crusher)
Pinch of salt
Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Thickness varies depending on sour cream brand - if you want it thinner to drizzle, use either milk or water (1 tsp at a time, to be safe!). Keeps 3 - 4 days in fridge (might need spritz of fresh lime to brighten).6. Storage – Like all braises, this one keeps for many days (up to 5). Also suitable for freezing.7. Recipe source - With thanks to my friend Kevin from Kevin is Cooking for this recipe! He knows his Tex-Mex, that's for sure!8. Nutrition – Calculated per serving (10 servings total)